South Carolina has the lowest percentage of any unionized workforce in the U.S. On February 15, mechanics at Boeing’s Charleston facility overwhelmingly rejected an attempt by the International Association of Machines and Aerospace Workers to organize, similar to the existing union presence at its Washington production plant. The Boeing machinists convincingly defeated the petition, with 74 percent of employees voting against the union.
The vote follows open efforts by South Carolina state officials to discourage unionization at the Charleston facility. Union supporters accused Boeing of shifting work to South Carolina to avoid strikes that had plagued manufacturing at its Washington operation. While federal labor law limits the ability of employers to directly shift work from unionized to non-unionized facilities, this vote may embolden more employers to attempt to avoid collective bargaining by establishing operations in states like South Carolina that have demonstrated a traditional hostility toward unionization efforts.